Democrats Unveil Legislation to Invest in Schools, Create Jobs
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, on the 63rd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and House Democrats introduced the Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2017. This legislation highlights the need for bold investment in school infrastructure as a means to achieve greater educational equity, while breathing new life into communities and creating jobs.
“Two of my priorities in Congress are creating jobs and strengthening public education – and this bill does both,” said Rep. Donald Norcross. “No American student should be going to a school that poses a serious safety threat but, unfortunately, that’s happening right now. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act provides investments that help students and teachers, as well as the men and women who will build new schools. As a father and grandfather, and an IBEW electrician by trade, I’ll continue to support initiatives that lift up workers, improve schools and help students succeed."
Today marks the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down lawful school segregation and affirmed that education was a right that “must be made available to all on equal terms.” New investments in school infrastructure can help level the playing field for students in under-resourced communities and help strengthen local economies.
In 2014, a Department of Education study estimated that it would cost $197 billion to bring all public schools into good condition.
Original lead cosponsors of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act include Rep. Norcross, along with Reps. Bobby Scott (VA-3), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Ruben Kihuen (NV-04) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL).
“No child should learn, and no teacher should teach, in an unsafe or dilapidated learning environment,” said Rep. Scott, Ranking Member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “We know that poor school facility conditions impact teaching and learning and disproportionately plague schools that serve low-income and minority students. On the anniversary of Brown, we must recommit to fulfilling its decades’ old promise – that all students have access to equal educational opportunity, including equal access to safe and modern learning facilities. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act will advance educational equity while creating almost 2 million jobs. House Democrats believe that any comprehensive infrastructure plan must support needed improvements in school facilities, and I call on Congress to invest in public schools and the communities they serve as a first step in demonstrating its commitment to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.”
"Our young people are 25 percent of our population and 100 percent of our future, and it is critical they have the resources they need to learn and excel,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “Too many schools, especially in high-poverty areas, lack the infrastructure they need to help students compete on a level playing field. This bill will create more than 1.9 million jobs by addressing critical physical and infrastructure needs in schools, and investing in our most critical asset: our children.”
“All across Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District, our school infrastructure is in desperate need of modernization and improvement,” said Rep. Ruben Kihuen (NV-04). “Not only do investments in school buildings help children learn, but they are critical to ensuring schools keep our kids healthy and safe. We must make investments in our future generation to guarantee their shot at success. I am proud to co-lead this bill, and am confident this will help put Nevada on the right path towards improving our school infrastructure.”
“As a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I strongly support investment in schools as a part of any bold infrastructure proposal,” said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL). “In the District of Columbia, we have seen school renovation and redevelopment have a major impact on the lives of students. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act would help ensure that we are meeting all the digital and physical infrastructure needs of students and teachers, which will improve student academic achievement.”
School facilities still pose significant health and safety threats to more than 50 million students and 3 million teachers in public schools.
"Every day, students attend schools that put their health and safety at risk—black toxic mold on floors, classrooms without heat, leaking ceilings and no working internet,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Our children deserve better. Public schools throughout the nation must be included in the list for immediate investment and modernization, and this legislation delivers on that promise.”
"Educators commend Rep. Scott's leadership in developing a plan to invest $100 billion in school infrastructure so more students can have 21st century, first rate learning environments, while also creating employment opportunities for nearly 2 million hard working Americans,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association.
Additional cosponsors include Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-AL), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Alma S. Adams (NC-12) Tim Ryan (OH-13), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Val Butler Demings (FL-10), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Hank Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Mark Pocan (WI-02), John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13), Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY-08), Robert A. Brady (PA-01), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), Mark Takano (CA-41), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Donald McEachin (VA-04), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Richard M. Nolan (MN-08), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), David Loebsack (IA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Gene Green (TX-29), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), and Kathy Castor (FL-14).
Contact: Ally Kehoe, Communications Director